Business frequently trashes language. Words are abused and repeated until they’re devoid of any actual meaning. Using those terms makes you sound like an idiot. These are the 15 words that are used most often in talking about business — and almost all of them can be avoided.
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Business Insider reports on an analysis by Global Language Monitor which identified the terms most often used specifically in business communication. This is the list, with our comments about when that word might be acceptable and when it should be avoided:
Content: A news story or annual report can be described as content. A comment on Twitter can’t be.
Social media: It’s better to talk about the specific service being used (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) than lumping them all in the same category.
Sustainability: OK in your environmental policy. Less pleasant when talking about profitability.
Transparency: In our experience, people who make noise about transparency frequently have something to hide.
Literally: You can almost always delete this. Chances are you’re not using it correctly, and many people will judge you for making that mistake.
Guru: Avoid. Some people will interpret this as meaning ‘charlatan’.
Utilise: A fancy synonym for ‘use’, which gets the same idea across better.
Robust: It’s better to be specific about why something is robust than simply to claim that it is.
Ping: Save this for when you want to check if a site is available.
Big data: Big data needs to be large in scope, variable in structure, not already linked together, and subjected to analysis.
Nouns used as verbs (to concept, to ballpark, to impact): Stop that already.
Seamless: So overused these days as to be meaningless.
Moving forward: Meaningless blather. Cut it out.
The cloud: A service which you can easily scale up and down and which is delivered online can be said to be an example of “cloud computing”. The cloud on its own is a much more amorphous idea.
Offline: Most acceptable when your internet connection isn’t working.
Moving forward, you should literally utilise the robust services of a transparency guru to impact social media in the cloud. See why that’s a bad idea?
The 15 Most Overused Business Words Of 2013 [Business Insider]
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.